My FORBES article on Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam being the only top prospect to enter the 2013 NFL Draft without an agent seems to have been a hot read, with over 23,000 views. Not only did it turn out that Elam was the only drafted player to not have an NFLPA certified Contract Advisor at the time that he was drafted, he also did what many thought was unthinkable — he negotiated his contract with the Ravens without the assistance of a Contract Advisor as well.
What many viewed to be a bold move by Elam may become a more general trend in the future. Sure, Matt Elam is a rarity. He has a brother who has played many years in the NFL and was able to provide the financial support that many NFL hopefuls find from established agents. But more and more, the role of agents with regards to the negotiation of rookie contracts and the value of their offered pre-Draft services are being questioned. This is especially true in a system where rookie deals are largely slotted.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com says that you should not be surprised if 6-8 first round athletes are self-represented in the 2014 NFL Draft. While I do believe that Elam’s experience may influence others to follow his business model in the future, I do not think that so many athletes will follow in Elam’s footsteps at such a rapid pace. However, do not be shocked if more than 1 drafted player in 2014 decides to enter the NFL Draft without a certified Contract Advisor, and instead uses the assistance of an attorney or other qualified individual “behind the scenes.”
That said, an NFL player’s first contract is very different than his second deal (if he stays in the league to earn such a contract). Thus, while the “Elam Plan” may become a growing trend among rookies, do not expect the same to be the case for players once they begin to think about the millions they can earn through the life of their second contracts.